First the Oculus Rift, then Google Glasses and Cast, and now Mr. Wearable Computer himself is out with his own device “The Meta”, listed now on kickstarter. For $750, you get the Epson see-through display glasses and a SoftKinetic camera on your forehead, all connected through software magic to create an augmented reality see-through display.
We are integrating customized hardware components and building a robust SDK (software development kit). meta 1 is the most advanced and affordable interface for augmented reality, we want every developer to have the opportunity to create the apps of the future.
Our partnerships, investment and timing have allowed us to deliver this hardware/software kit to developers for $750 and comes ready for you to get hacking right away.
It looks a bit bulky and goofy, but it is the beginning of a totally new computer interaction paradigm. The ability to merge Virtual and Physical content into the real-world will be a huge change to computing, and I for one am ecstatic to finally see it happening.
The Oculus Rift is all the buzz in the gamer-sphere, and reviews and demos keep popping up every day. As more people dig into it, tho, people are finding all the classic VR problems that VR researchers have been digging into for the last 20 years. Fast Company has an article on some of these problems:
Those who watched the videos came to see how much VR does deliver to their favorite titles, like the aforementioned Portal series, the award-winning roleplaying game Skyrim, or the parkour action-game Mirror’s Edge. Wooden found user interfaces an issue. “You can’t have your information on the outskirts of the screen. You have to have it near the middle, where the person can actually see it. Or you have to have it someplace where the person can look on the player’s character model,” said Wooden.
The experienced developers (Michael Abrash, John Carmack,etc) know enough to dig into the IEEE and ACM literature for background, but newer developers are diving in fresh. Who will come up with the best ideas? Only time will tell.
If you think the incredible picture quality, detail, color and resolution of HDTV is the pinnacle in home entertainment viewing, you’d actually be mistaken. Something even better is on the horizon: 4KTV.
Yes, 4K television is on its way, and it promises to be even better than HDTV — four times better, to be exact.
How on earth can things get better than HDTV, you might ask? Well, the quality of the 4K picture starts with the video camera. A 4K camera is able to capture far more details than an HD camera. The 4K image sensor is quite a bit larger than previous video cameras, so more digital data is captured. The end result is a more accurate, superior picture. It has been said that 4K enables the largest TV screens to look better than ever. Viewers can sit closer to the screen and have an engaged, immersed experience, like having a movie theater right in their home.
To put it in pixels, at this time HDTV has a resolution of 1080p, or 2 million pixels per frame. By comparison, 4K technology will deliver about 8.8 million pixels per frame, with resultant heightened accuracy, detail and picture quality. Its creators believe this will translate into even sharper, clearer pictures with better color and contrast than what HD currently offers.
Concerns with Content
As for concerns with this technology, the main one so far has been the fact that there’s just not yet that much content available for these TVs. At this time, about 100 movies are available in 4K, according to CNN. Only 4K content can do justice to a 4K display. It’s going to take some time for the technology to become widespread, and then content providers will step up their output.
Sony has plans to offer a 4K media player — the FMP-X1 — that will be released in 2013. It will come pre-loaded with 10 movies in 4K resolution and has a price tag of $699. The device will be internet-ready and also ready to connect with a 4K movie download service Sony will be offering, set to launch in late 2013. This content will be available for users with unlimited fiber broadband and a paid subscription. 4K Blu-ray won’t be available in 2013, which may create a higher demand for 4K streaming services.
Third parties, especially cable tv providers, will eventually start offering 4K technology as well. DirecTV recently trademarked a 4K/Ultra HD network, according to DigitalTrends.com. Streaming cost details have not yet been released, but these will likely be your best bet for 4K content if you snap up a 4K TV early in the technology’s life cycle.
The Cost of Cutting-Edge
As of this writing, the Sony company is leading the charge in 4K technology. They offer a huge 84-inch model for $25,000 as well as smaller sizes. A standard size TV these days has come to mean 50 inches or larger, as “average” for a TV size seems to continually increase. CNET got a chance to demo Sony’s offerings; here’s what they found:
Sony will offer the Bravia model in a 55-inch 4K UltraHD-TV with a price tag of $5,000. There will also be a 65-inch version for $7,000, according to Forbes. Lesser-known companies like Sharp, OEM Seiki, LG, Panasonic and Samsung will also offer their own versions of 4K TV. These offerings will likely be more affordable, but come with fewer features.
The question remains: Do you need 4K TV? The answer to that question is up to you. Visual people who love home theater entertainment will probably want the latest and greatest. However, if you’re only a moderate TV watcher, the difference may not be appreciable enough for you. Regardless, go and see the technology yourself, view it side by side with HDTV, and decide for yourself if the difference is worth the cost.
Article by Peter Henry
Pete is a freelance writer and single dad who lives in Maryland.
Reminiscent of the beginnings of the Oculus Rift, there’s now a new Augmented Reality headwear coming to Kickstarter from some old Valve employees and Jeri Ellsworth. They had some rough prototypes at the recent Maker Faire 2013, and the folks from engadget were there to get pics and an interview.
We interacted with a variety of environments, from a flying tour over a digital landscape to shooting up zombies with hooked up Xbox controllers, and was amazed at how intuitive and natural the controls felt. We also waved a LED-equipped wand around to throw a wrecking ball into a Jenga-style tower, which delighted us to no end. Not once did we feel nauseous or disoriented even as we bobbed and weaved.
Different from many other AR systems I’ve seen, the Cast works by mounting the projectors on your head thanks to new picoprojector technology. This offers many benefits like the ability to tightly couple a projector’s display to shutter glasses in hardware, allowing the projectors to display the left and right eye-frames in sync with active shutter glasses. This limits the augmented reality experience to a small projection area, but you could imagine a modified AR/VR scenario similar to working in a CAVE where you only render the portion of the screen you are looking at.
The NVidia Shield handheld gaming console is now available for preorder at $349, with delivery by the end of the next month. For the $349, you get the package shown above: The console, and 2 games.
The desktop streaming feature, which allows you to use the Shield as a “remote” for Steam games on your PC, will be available as a “Beta” feature at launch. I’m not sure exactly what that means, except that it will be unsupported.
With 3d printers getting popular and cheaper, the ability to build and share models is becoming more important. A new website called “FabFabbers” connects OpenSCAD’s open model creating tools with GitHub to allow full revision control and backup of your models.
“I was motivated to do this from discussions on the RepRap forums,” Marcos says “People seemed to have become disenchanted with some aspects of the Thingiverse terms of service, ownership/licensing of models, etc.”
StereoscopyNews brings us the news of a new glasses-free 3D Tablet being launched next month at the IMC Lab Gallery, called the Neo3DO. While I’m surprised they chose a name so close to the old “NeoGeo”, it’s a interesting autostereoscopic tablet running Android.
Come and bring your friend or colleague to test the device, see some cool 3D content, and hang out with other 3D professionals and enthusiasts while having a drink and snack.
Join Neo3DO for:
3D tablet hands-on demonstrations;
a chance to buy a tablet for a super discount;
a chance to win a tablet through giveaways/raffle!
Wine/beer and appetizers will be provided.
Bring your own 3D content (photos, videos, etc.) on USB or microSD and see it in 3D on the tablet, without the glasses.
Event Location: the IMC Lab Gallery, 56 West 22nd Street, New York, USA (6th floor)
There’s a new version of popular 3D Movie player “Stereoscopic Player” from 3dTv.at that brings a few new OLE automation commands and some bugfixes, but what makes this new version neat is the new support for the Oculus Rift. Of course, head tracking plays no part in this, it’s just stereo movie playback, but if you’re lucky enough to have one of the units and don’t mind the low resolution display, now you can watch your 3D Movies “in your face” on your rift.
InsideHPC brings us the shocking news that SGI, the oldest of graphics companies that hasn’t done any graphics lately, is returning to its roots a bit and announcing their “new” VUE suite of products. I put “new” in quotes because I distinctly remember the VUE products from abou 5 years ago. But insightful John Leidel noticed that perhaps this announcement went a bit deeper:
I spent about then minutes flying through presenations from their VP of viz, Bob Pette, when I noticed something interesting. The logo was no longer the singular sgi cube [affectionately called the "Bug Logo"], but rather it actually contained “Silicon Graphics.” Plot thickens. Is SGI going back to its roots, not only in graphics, but in corporate logo as well?
I’ve not seem much success in the VUE line in the past, as it seemed more gimmicky than functional. However, maybe this new version will change that. Their SoftVUE, PowerVUE, RemoteVUE trio seems to be a stab at systems like HP’s Scalable Visualization, which I looked at several years ago and passed on. The other tools are, from what I remember, primarily hardware accelerated live-video viewing tools, so they’re honest in saying you can view data from any source, because you’re getting those sources as video streams live in your view, and then you can overlay, stretch, and warp them around. It’s a neat way to merge disparate systems like Google Maps and live video streams, or CAD and Simulation outputs, but there’s no cross-talk between the applications.
Hopefully this new release not only signals some new features to these tools, but a newfound thrust without SGI towards reinstating the “G” in their name
A new patent from Philips proposes a new data storage and algorithmic reconstruction for stereoscopic 3D data based on mixing a Depth Map with the video stream and allowing a compute processor to reconstruct as many stereo views as necessary.
stereoscopic data may comprise a so-called depth map that is associated with a visual image. A depth map can be regarded as a set of values, which may be in the form of a matrix. Each value relates to a particular area in the visual image and indicates a distance between a virtual observer and an object in that area. The area concerned may comprise a single pixel or a cluster of pixels, which may have rectangular shape, or any other shape for that matter. A processor is capable of generating different views, which are required for stereoscopic rendering, on the basis of the visual image and the depth map associated therewith.
At first glance this seems a bit pointless for movies, until you realize the number of Autostereoscopic displays that can represent multiple views, aside from the classic stereo pair.
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